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Can You Get Sick With COVID-19 More Than Once?

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What experts do know about COVID-19 is that it’s a confusing disease and that we’re only now discovering it’s reach and effect.

When living through a pandemic, it’s normal to think through different scenarios, whether they concern your health or income. When it comes to COVID-19, a significant number of people are terrified of contracting the disease — even those who have already suffered through it.

Like many viruses, some experts believe that getting exposed to the pathogen might make people more resistant to it, at least temporarily. Sadly, new reports suggest that COVID-19 doesn’t act like other flus and viruses. It seems that people are able to catch the virus twice, with the second round being even more harmful.

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“During his first infection, my patient experienced a mild cough and sore throat. His second infection, in contrast, was marked by a high fever, shortness of breath, and hypoxia, resulting in multiple trips to the hospital,” wrote primary care physician Dr. Clay Ackerly for Vox.

The doctor explains that one explanation for this particular patient’s symptoms is that while he recovered from his first infection, theoretically producing the necessary antibodies, he then caught the second bout from a family member. By the time the second infection occurred, his initial antibody response might have faded.

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A recent study found that those who are either asymptomatic or symptomatic build an antibody response immediately after infection, only to have it fade away within 60 to 90 days. While that number of days works for seasonal viruses and flus, it’s not enough for a pandemic that seems unaffected by weather and that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. It also eliminates the hope of “herd immunity.”

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“Just throw it out the window,” Dr. Michael Saag told NBC News. “Because not enough people could sustain an immune response that would protect against reinfection long enough for the virus to extinguish.”

What experts do know about COVID-19 is that it’s a confusing disease and that we’re only now discovering it’s reach and effect. Until we know how the virus works, we’ll have to be extra careful with our health and how we conduct ourselves when surrounded by others.

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